We are very excited to tell you that we are one today! And what better way to celebrate than a cake? A proper birthday cake in layers, filled with cream and fruit, but given the grown up twist you’d expect from such a stylish food blog! It just had to be a no-butter sponge with forced Yorkshire rhubarb and rose petals for us…
Despite my love of baking, I have never actually made a basic sponge layer cake before, so I immediately turned to a recipe for guidance and my eye was caught by Rachel Allen’s recipe for a butter-free sponge on page 42 of Bake. It looked like the perfect chance to test my skills and use the new fancy electric whisk I got for Christmas. Plus I’d forgotten to take the butter out the fridge to soften in advance…
This is actually so very simple that all it requires is some careful measuring and a bit of time for the mixing. You beat the yolk of 3 eggs together with 225grams of sugar, before adding 90mls of water and blending for around 10 minutes until the mixture is light, creamy and almost mousse like. I don’t advise doing this by hand as you will probably end up with cramp before too long.
Sore arms not withstanding, fold in 150g plain flour and 1 teaspoon of baking powder and watch the mixture puff up like there is alchemy involved. Then whisk your remaing eggwhites until soft peaks and fold those in too, leaving you with a very pale moussy textured batter than just pours into a greased sandwich tin beautifully. These went into a 180° oven that the forced rhubarb had been roasting in and baked for about 25 minutes.
I was amazed by how much these cakes rose in the oven, looking almost souffle like in height. I was also slightly worried as I didn’t think I had greased the pans high enough up and thought the cake might stick a bit. Unfortunately I was proved right when I tried to loosen them to let them cool on a rack and the edges looked a bit dishevelled after loosening them with a knife.
The cakes settled and no longer looked as puffed up as a mating bird looking for attention once cooled and I sandwiched the two layers together with some whipped (unsweetened) double cream and the perfectly pink rhubarb before sprinkling the whole thing with icing sugar and dried rose petals for a modern grown up take on the traditional jam and cream filled sponge.
It looked delicious and despite a feast of partridge for dinner, I couldn’t resist a slice of this soon afterwards. And it was fabulous. Moist and light with a slightly different and more firm crumb than a butter based sponge, you would never have known this was butter free and I loved the texture, especially with the thick cream and soft but tangy rhubarb. I did find the sponge a little bit sweet and was glad the filling was sharp and unsweetened or it could have been a bit cloying. In future I’ll reduce the sugar to 175g and see what happens.
Despite this minor problem and the more time consuming method, I’ll be making this cake again. A brilliant recipe for when you’ve forgotten the unsalted butter or want to ease back on the calories so you can put twice as much double cream in the middle, I loved this. The rhubarb was mouth puckeringly perfect as a filling, prevented from being overpowering by the delicate floral notes of the rose and I am completely converted to their compatibility in future!
As much of a learning curve as blogging over the past year has been, this slightly rough around the edges cake was the perfect way to embrace our wonderful first foodie year and look forward to many more years to come. Might even save you all a slice next time!